Up for today: Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan (Book 1) by John Flanagan
Why I bought it? This question should probably be more along the lines of why I read it. I actually bought this several years ago. It was something my daughter picked out at the bookstore. Barnes and Noble--I think. I finally read it because my son kept pushing it on me.
Synopsis/Set up: 15 year old Will wants more than anything to be chosen as an apprentice to the battle school, but he's rejected for his slight size. He ends up being chosen as the Ranger's apprentice, and he's not sure he's happy about it. He learns that his natural talents and size are a perfect fit for the Rangers. It's the story of a kid finding his place in the world.
What I thought? I'm getting to be a big fan of all these Australian authors who have been showing up on our bookshelves recently. This is a fantastic read for a boy, and I didn't want to put it down either. The characters are great, fully realized with strengths and weaknesses. (On a side note: as a mom, I was glad my kids read it. The heros are the kind that I like my kids to identify with. Working hard, doing their best, striving to do what is right. But not perfect. Real.) The setting is detailed and you feel like you're really in a medieval environment. It's an engrossing, fun read. Flanagan's style reminds me a lot of Louis L'Amour--a non-western Louis L'Amour for kids and teens. Here's a great video of Flanagan talking about why he wrote this series and his writing in general.
My Rating: **** 1/2 out of 5
My Daughter's Rating (16 yr. old): ***** out of 5, She read it several years ago and kept recommending it to her brother until he read it.
My Son's Rating (14 yr. old): ***** out of 5, "It's wonderful," he said when I asked for his comment. He used to be a reluctant reader. (Can I tell you how happy I am to be able to say he "used to be"?) After he read the Percy Jackson series and finally realized that he could like reading, I was searching high and low for something else he would love. His sister brought this out for him and pitched it again. He bit this time and loved it. He has even taken up archery as a result of reading this novel and all the ones that follow. I recently bought 8 and 9, and 10 comes out in April.
Cleanness Score: 3 out of 10, This is mostly for the violence. There's enough to make it exciting for the older boys and teens--not so much that younger boys can't enjoy it. As for language, there may have been a mild expletive here or there, but there was nothing jarring to me. I wouldn't have a problem with my 10 year old daughter reading it, but she hasn't yet. She's busy reading Rick Riordan.